The founder of Ozar Hatorah school in Toulouse – scene of the horrific murder of one of its teachers, his two children and the child of the headmaster – was a Syrian Jew, according to Reuters. Isaac Shalom opened a network of schools in Arab countries and Iran in the 1940s to respond to ‘disastrous educational conditions.’
The shooting marks a tragic turn for Ozar Hatorah, which was created in the wake of the Holocaust in the mid-1940s by a Syrian-born Jew intent on improving the lot of Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa.
In 2001 a classroom was burned down at a “Ozar Hatorah”, or “Treasure of the Torah”, school in the Paris suburb of Creteil, but the perpetrator turned out to be a pupil.
(Rabbi Jean-Paul) Amoyelle said Monday’s attack was a sign of growing danger.
“This was deliberate. Anti-semitic and deliberate, I have no doubt,” Amoyelle said by telephone as he was due to return to France. “I plan to install a zone of reinforced security.”
The creator of Ozar Hatorah, Isaac Shalom, opened schools in countries including Morocco, Iran, Libya and Syria to respond to what his network described as disastrous educational conditions.
As the region underwent upheaval and war following the creation of the state of Israel, Ozar Hatorah also followed the path of Jewish emigration, starting schools in France from the late 1960s as large numbers of North African Jews crossed the Mediterranean to escape heightened regional tensions.
“I was in France in 1967. I began with a school in Sarcelles (a Paris suburb), and there was already one in Lyon,” said Amoyelle, who now oversees 20 schools across Paris and cities like Marseille, Strasbourg and Aix-les-bains.
“These are schools that are perfectly integrated in the community,” he added, describing the educational program as offering two possibilities: a straightforward French education as well as a Jewish education rooted in history and religion.